10 Reasons Why You Need The Arkells in Your Life

I first heard them on the radio in 2012 while working in Paris, Ontario. The song was Ticats are Hummin’, a love song for their hometown’s champion football team: The Hamilton Tigercats. I instantly fell in love with this band and scribbled down the lyrics so I could go home to look up the song. My research led me to Arkells, a band made up of guys from Hamilton who named themselves after a street in their town: Arkell Street. That night, I listened to their first album, Jackson Square, and then their second, Michigan Left. The relatable lyrics and original tunes made every song feel like a love song to each person in the middle class of the Ontarian steel city. I remember feeling like my heart struck gold when I finally discovered their music. They are now the band I grew up loving, following and listening to. So here’s 10 reasons why they’re the band you need, too.

1. They sing about Canada in a way that makes everyone wish they grew up in the middle-sized towns you did

While the “6ix” has received a ton of love lately for its children, which includes Drake, The Weeknd and Shawn Mendes, lately Oshawa hasn’t been looking too bad, either. The Arkells released a song called Don’t Be A Stranger, a sympathetic ballad to any friend that needs a quiet minute and a hand to hold that calls Oshawa out by name. Our middle sized hometowns are receiving some love, and we are finally being seen and heard. Arkells also did this in Where U Goin, singing about the 401, 402, and 403 highways; something specific to Southern Ontario, sparking pride for any resident there.

2. They hate Doug Ford

Arkells most recent album, Rally Cry, has become an anthem for so many people currently fighting for their spot in this political climate. The album features several songs with strong messages, and one song, Relentless, has become an anthem for the Autism Community in Ontario. In a concert this summer, front man Max Kerman grabbed a sign from a fan during Relentless and exclaimed, “Fuck Doug Ford, everybody!” and in true Canadian middle sized town fashion, they have not apologized for it once.

3. They once threw a concert in an effort to bring the Hamilton community together, and donated portions of ticket sales to a Hamilton refugee centre

In the summer of 2018, the Arkells put on the first Arkells Rally. Their goal was to bring the Hamilton community together and give a portion of the proceeds to a centre in Hamilton that helps newcomers and refugees adjust to their new lives. This concert ran past the allowed time alloted in a Hamilton bylaw, and Arkells had to pay for this violation. Being one of the people in the upper bowl at the Tim Hortons field, I can tell you first hand that this night was absolutely electric, and it was all for a good cause.

4. They’re unapologetically political, and do it in the best way

One of the first songs released from their most recent album, Rally Cry, is People’s Champ and it is directed at Donald Trump. From their first album to their most recent one, Arkells are for their people: a middle class full of love, equality and compassion. Their social media is constantly rooting for those who display these qualities and ideals in their campaign, and you can also see more personal opinions on the band members’ personal accounts. We LOVE a band that uses their platform and voice to speak out against injustices and inequality, who do this in and out of songs. 

5. They fight every day for fair ticket prices

I don’t have to tell you that being a broke student who is also a total nerd for live music and concerts is rough. There are constantly shows happening that are too expensive, and as recently seen in social media, this often happens once an artist is in high demand. Arkells are advocates for keeping ticket prices affordable for their fans and insist that if tickets must be resold, they get resold at the purchase price. They are for their people, which isn’t a quality we often see in bands.

6. You haven’t heard these songs before

Ready to take a step back from the same storyline you hear on the radio on a daily basis? Arkells are the band for you. Their music is different and refreshing, but best of all, so are their lyrics. Every song is like its own story, specific to them and Canada. They are relatable and paint pictures with colours that are unlike the ones any popular artist is using right now. 

7. They have the MOST Canadian pride

Even disregarding how they incorporate lesser known Canadiana into their music, they still show Canadian pride in just about everything they do. They frequently discuss their hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, and are huge fans of the Toronto Raptors, the most recent NBA champions. They even invited the Raptor’s’ head coach, Nick Nurse, on stage to play the guitar for a portion of a concert they performed in Toronto. They stay up to date with Canadian politics and encourage their fans to as well and frequently perform around Canada.

8. They perform in concert with a partial brass section and the Arkettes, and incorporate these musicians into the centre-stage

It’s not often that a band takes the spotlight off themselves and spreads it, which makes the upcoming reason that much more awesome. When performing, Arkells use a partial brass section as well as the Arkettes: three extremely talented, gorgeous women who sing back-up for the band. At some point in the concert, the brass musicians and Arkettes take centre stage to display their talent to the fullest, alongside Arkells. So, not only is there a LOT of soul added to these concerts, the fun and centre stage opportunity gets passed around, and I just think that’s the coolest thing. 

9. They love to love

I think Arkells has the most fun spreading love through music everywhere they go. Their social media is constantly supporting what they believe in, and when they first begin their concert, they ask three things: for fans to sing, for fans to dance and for fans to look out for one another. They love to love music, they love to love one another and they love to love their fans.

10. The unparalleled concert experience they provide

Finally, the number 10 reason why Arkells is the band you’ve always needed in your life, is the compelling need to purchase tickets for the best concert experience. They will play their wonderfully relatable songs (and some groovy covers). These songs will include the Arkettes and the partial brass section, and you will feel a room full of love like never before. The concert can be so huge, yet it feels so intimate. You will never forget the people you sat next to, because I promise that you will probably strike up a conversation with them. That is just how Arkells fans are. Max will insist you dance and sing and be friends with all the thousands of people there, and you’ll do it. Arkells has a way of bringing each seat in a stadium together, and delivering a performance that makes people feel so enlightened, supported, loved, and proud to live only a bit down the 401 and 403 from the place this all began: Hamilton, Ontario.

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